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Tea for Two or Two for Tea…

If someone asked me, I would say I’m a coffee in the morning gal, tea in the afternoon.  While tea has always been a big hit with the British, it’s getting pretty trendy in North America.  Teashops are popping up everywhere in posh neighbourhoods and different varieties of loose leaf and artisanal blooming teas are becoming widely available in grocery stores.

Last summer, I took a two day intensive  Tea Workshop at The Tea Emporium in uptown Toronto.  Super nerdy, I often asked, “Is this going to be on the quiz later?”  Here are the funnest grains of wisdom that I learned from my time in tea la-la land.

  • Tea is made from the tea plant, Camellia Sinensus.  Herbal teas are known as tisanes because they are not derived from this plant.
  • There are white, green, oolong, black and puh erh teas.  These all differ based on their drying and fermenting process. Warning:  True tea enthusiasts will slap you if you think you can drink White Tea in Lipton tea bag.
  • Afternoon Tea with petit fours and sandwiches originated with the (pre-socialite) Duchess of Bedford, who would stave off hunger pangs prior to dinner by receiving guests with tea and cakes, followed by walks in the fields.  
  • While the concept of High Tea conjurs up images of Blair Waldor drinking tea pinkie up at the Ritz, its origins lie with the common folk who used the term to describe a heavy lunch consisting of copious amounts of meat and potatoes, with tea.
  • At Starbucks, you ask for chai tea, but translated this means “tea-tea.” In India, the tradition of tea sellers making tea on the side of the road still remains (called chaiwallahs).
As seen on The Fabulous Life: Pret-a-Portea @ The Berkeley, London.

As seen on The Fabulous Life: Pret-a-Portea @ The Berkeley, London.

The most ridiculous High Tea I have ever had the great luxury to enjoy was at The Berkeley in Knightsbridge, London.  They have a Pret-a-Portea where biscuits are fashioned into bikinis and tiny cakes are decorated like mini Chanel clutches.  The tea sommelier describes each as they are based on the Fall/Winter collections.  You can literally high tea for hours.

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2 comments

1 kare { 08.27.09 at 9:51 am }

ohh! high tea in London sounds fab! I’m still dying to enjoy it at the Red Tea Box on Queen West!

Love Collage – what are your fav places in Toronto?

2 fuschiabird { 08.27.09 at 10:34 pm }

Red Tea Box on Queen West has a secret cottage tucked behind the store which is lovely in the summer for afternoon tea. High Tea @ Windsor Arms or Four Seasons for a special occasion

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